Pippa Elliott
Dr Pippa Elliott (BVMS MRCVS, University of Glasgow)
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The Havachin is a hybrid dog, a charming mix between Havanese and Japanese Chin. This is a small to medium-sized dog, marked out by their calm and affectionate nature, along with a long flowing coat. But whilst they get full mark for kind character, they can be prone to anxiety and get stressed when left alone.

The Havachin’s small size makes them less robust than other hybrids, and they may struggle to cope with young children. The Havanese doesn’t need a lot of exercise, but time saved on walks will be expended on coat care. That long hair means daily combing is important to prevent knots forming. They will also need regular parlour visits to keep the coat trimmed into a pleasing shape.

About & History

The Havachin is a hybrid breed, meaning their history only extends back a couple of decades. However, both parent breeds have long and interesting stories.

The Havanese

As the name suggests, the Havanese originated from the Cuban city of Havana, and known by the name of “Little White Dog of Havana”. This original breed arose from dogs brought by early colonists to Havana but, sadly, no longer exists. From this lineage came many of the most well-loved little dog breeds, such as the Bichon Frise, the Bolognese, the Maltese, and the Coton de Tulear.

Spanish colonists in Cuba took a liking to these affectionate little dogs and soon exported them back to Europe. The breed became endangered in the 1950s, but subsequently became the national dog of Cuba and now enjoys a healthy popularity both in their native Cuba and abroad.

The Japanese Chin

The Japanese Chin is thought to have developed as a lap dog for Japanese nobility. They also went by the name of Japanese Pug and Japanese Spaniel, and although popular in their native country, were little known in the wider world until the mid-19th century. It took the opening up of international trade in the 1850s for this little dog to come to notice, and they have been widely popular since then.


Hybrid dogs can take after one parent or another, or be a blend of both. Thus in a litter of Havachins some pups will look like a Japanese Chin, others the Havanese, whilst some will be a halfway house.

For those pups that are a true blend, they will be small to medium-sized with a long coat. Their body is relatively long and sturdy, with short to medium length legs. The common coat colours include traditional black and white, black and tan, grey, black, or sable.

The flat-face of the Japanese Chin is slightly extended by the more normally proportioned snout of the Havanese, often lending the Havachin a cute, snub nose. They have fold ears adorned with luxurious amount of fur. Whilst the other end of the dog is adorned by a curly tail, carried over the back, swathed with long feathering.

Character & Temperament

The Havachin is a happy dog that loves to be in human company. When socialised as puppies, they are steady with strangers, although may be shy at first. Their love of company means they can be unhappy when left alone, especially for long periods. This, along with their sensitive nature, can mean they exhibit distressed behaviour when left, such as barking, chewing, or destructiveness.


A bright and cheerful character, the Havachin is also a clever fellow. They can be motivated with treats, or indeed praise, and are good learners. The Havachin will lap up the one-to-one attention that training offers, and can be taught to do tricks.

However, be gentle with your fur-friend and always keep training sessions short and enjoyable. The Havachin is motivated to please, and therefore won’t respond to a harsh training regime.


There is a wide database about the health problems associated with various purebred dogs. As a hybrid, there is no such wealth of information for the Havachin. However, it is reasonable to assume that the most common issues in the parent breeds may also rear their head in their offspring.

Legge Perthes Disease

Legge-Perthe’s disease results in a crumbling hip joint in young dogs. It is due to the blood supply to the femoral head (top of the thigh bone) shutting down prematurely while the puppy is still growing. As a result, the bone is malnourished and fails to grow properly. The head of the femur often crumbles, causing pain and lameness.

The most frequent remedy is corrective surgery whereby the head of the femur is surgically removed. Known as an ‘excision arthroplasty’ this converts the hip into a muscular joint (rather than a bone-on-bone joint), which allows for good mobility, albeit the leg is now slightly shorter than the other.

Portosystemic Shunts

Also known as PSS for short, this is another developmental disorder – only this time a blood vessel present in the foetus fails to shut down when the puppy is born. This means blood bypasses the liver, and instead of being detoxed, remains rich in natural toxins that are the result of digesting food.

These naturally occurring toxins cause neurological signs including stupor (especially after eating), excessive salivation, seizures, and even coma. The condition can be managed medically but affected dogs often have a shortened lifespan. Alternatively, surgically closing the shunt carries an excellent outlook, but is a costly procedure as it requires referral to a specialist surgeon.

Mitral Valve Disease

The mitral valve sits in the left side of the heart and ensures one-way flow of blood. As the Havachin ages, this valve becomes stiff and fails to close properly. This allows blood to leak in the wrong direction, against the general flow of blood, which is heard as a heart murmur.

Mild cases need no treatment, whilst the worst affect dogs enter heart failure. The gold standard is to monitor heart size regularly via an ultrasound scan, and start medical therapy when the heart reaches a certain size of enlargement. This doesn’t cure the condition, but can significantly extend life expectancy.

Patellar Luxation

Patellar luxation, also known as wobbly kneecaps, results in the dog skipping steps on the affected leg. This is because the kneecap is unstable and may slip to one side of the knee when the dog takes a step. This mechanically locks the leg and inhibits the dog from taking a natural step.

Again, mild cases need no treatment, but at the other end of the scale, surgical reconstruction of the knee is required for dogs with pain or severe lameness. The sooner this surgery is undertaken, the lower the risk of premature arthritis developing as a result of bone rubbing against bone.

Exercise and Activity Levels

Those little legs and small stature mean the Havachin doesn’t require lots of exercise. However, they do need to regular walks. To keep a Havachin fit and well, and provide vital mental stimulation, means they do need a couple of short excursions each day.


Despite their abundant coat, the Havachin is a low shedder. However, this isn’t the same as not needing to be groomed regularly. Their long hair will knot and form teasels, especially in places where the fur rubs against itself, such as behind the ears.

Ideally, after each walk check the dog’s coat for twigs and burrs. Give them a quick comb through, paying special attention to feathering, armpits, belly, and behind the ears. At least once a week, brush the dog over to remove shed hair and prevent it choking the coat. This has the added benefit of spreading the dog’s naturally occurring conditioning oils to make the fur gleam with good health.

Another important part of grooming is dental care. From a puppy, get your Havachin used to having their teeth brushed. This should be done daily throughout their life, but always use a pet-safe toothpaste (the fluoride in human toothpaste is toxic to dogs if swallowed.)

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